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26 February 2024
MI Global Partners
The world is rapidly changing.

Last year, Gen Z became the largest generation, constituting 32% of the global population - or 2.47 billion of the 7.7 billion people on Earth - surpassing the Millennials and Baby Boomers, respectively.

However their strength isn’t just in their numbers. They see the world differently from those who came before them. They have grown up in a climate conscious digital world and have great concern about the climate crisis, inclusion and equality.

As a result, global brands are reaching out in different ways to engage with Gen Z’s outside of traditional advertising and sponsorship channels. Brands are looking for partnerships that combine purpose and sport, and major events provide exceptional platforms to meet the challenging needs, interests and values of these consumers.

These partnerships require alignment with their values to be digitally connected, diverse, inclusive, environmentally conscious, authentic, transparent and focused on creating unique and memorable experiences.

Commercial partnerships are critically important to sport, athletes and major events, and commercial partners are looking to align with those who share similar values and are committed to making a positive impact on the planet.

Here are just a few innovative global examples of how sports and events are partnering to create meaningful impacts.

Renewable Energy Partnerships: The Philadelphia Eagles partnered with NRG Energy to install 11,000 solar panels at their stadium, making it the first stadium in the world to be completely powered by renewable energy on game days. This partnership helped to attract new commercial partnerships with other organisations that valued sustainable innovation and is expected to save the Eagles more than $60 million in energy costs over the next two decades.

Sustainable Transportation Partnerships: FIBA Women’s World Cup 2022 partnered with SIXT for the supply of fleet event vehicles to transport teams, staff and officials. To support the LOC’s goal of hosting the most sustainable Women’s Basketball World Cup since the event’s inception, 30% of the vehicles provided were electric – a fantastic outcome showcasing leadership toward sustainable futures when market penetration of EVs in Australia is still at a low 2%. Similarly, UEFA has recently announced BYD as their Official E-Mobility Partner for the EURO 2024, providing a diverse range of NEVs (new energy vehicles) for stakeholders, contributing to UEFA’s goal of organising the most sustainable European Championship to date.

Sustainable Material Partnerships: adidas partnered with Parley for the Oceans to create a line of shoes and jerseys made from recycled plastic collected from the ocean with the aim of ending plastic waste. The program was called the Three Loop Strategy – Recycled Loop, Circular Loop and Bionic Loop. This partnership helped to attract new commercial partnerships with companies that value circular sourcing production methods, resulting in adidas providing sustainable uniforms across US sports partners MLS, NHL, USA Volleyball and the Power 5 NCAA football programs.

Waste Reduction Partnerships: The Seattle Mariners partnered with a company to install a composting system at its stadium, diverting over 168 tons of food waste from landfill whilst also recycling 396 tons of plastic bottles, paper, carboard cans and glass to further reduce emissions. This initiative not only prevented the release of harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere but also transformed the waste into nutrient-rich compost for beneficial reuse. The impressive data from these for purpose initiatives have not only contributed to the Mariners' commitment to sustainability, but have also helped attract new commercial partnerships with companies that prioritise waste reduction and sustainability.


Through the integration of sustainable practices, sports organisations can strategically position themselves as highly appealing partners for commercial sponsors. This not only unlocks avenues for funding and support but also sets the stage for success both on and off the field.

Embracing a steadfast commitment to sustainability not only cultivates a positive image but also elevates reputation. In an era where awareness of sustainability is burgeoning, sports organisations championing environmental responsibility stand poised to garner heightened respect and admiration from fans, sponsors, and the broader community. This not only amplifies the organisation's profile but also serves as a magnet for new fans, ultimately fortifying its esteemed position within the industry.

Government funding for sports is also increasingly incorporating a demand for the inclusion of sustainability targets in reporting. The act of reporting on sustainability practices not only enables governments to monitor the advancements made by sports organisations in implementing sustainable measures but also facilitates the identification of areas that warrant enhancement. This transparent approach not only caters to the curiosity of stakeholders, including taxpayers and fans, seeking insights into the utilisation of their funds but also serves as a pivotal step towards promoting and ensuring sustainability.

In essence, the impact of sports is immeasurable. Through the incorporation of sustainable principles, sports organisations can not only forge enhanced commercial partnerships but also curtail expenditures and refine operational efficiencies. Embracing sustainability is not just a pathway to long-term success for these organisations; it is a commitment to shaping a more sustainable and prosperous future for all.

MI is proud to be Climate Active accredited and a certified B Corp, giving us genuine authenticity in the provision of our sustainability services across the sectors in which we specialise – Events, Sport and Place. Learn more about our commitment to making a difference here.

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